Seasonal Affective Disorder - Seniors' Symptoms May Resemble Depression

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posted by Ted Ryan on December 11, 2012

Reviewing our most popular blog posts, the topic of Sundowner’s Syndrome always tops the list. This post covers a similar condition – seasonal affective disorder. Like Sundowner’s Syndrome, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is conditional. While Sundowner’s occurs during a specific time of day, SAD occurs at a certain time of the year, usually in the winter.

Seasonal affective disorder does not exclusively impact the elderly but age is a contributing factor, so it may help caregivers and home health aides to be aware of its elements.

The symptoms of SAD are usually the same as other forms of depression. They may include:

• Hopelessness
• Unhappiness and irritability
• Increased appetite (and weight gain)
• Oversleeping
• Loss in energy and ability to concentrate
• Loss of interest in activities
• Sluggish movements
• Social withdrawal

Like treatments for depression, medication and talk therapy can be effective. Light therapy is also used to treat SAD.  This is the practice of spending a small portion of the day near a specified amount of light. For more information on light therapy, contact a health care provider. Helpful resources can also be found online.

There are ways to try managing SAD at home. They include:

• Practice good sleeping habits
• Eat a healthy diet
• Take medications as directed (and learn how to manage side effects)
• Educate yourself on depression, learn to spot its early signs and have a plan if they worsen
Exercise and seek activities that make you happy
• Avoid alcohol and illegal drugs
• Talk about how you’re feeling with someone you trust
• Try to be around caring and positive people

If you, or a loved one, find that you are still experiencing symptoms of SAD, or any other form of depression, you should contact your health care provider.

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